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World TB Day falling on March 24th each year, is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries.

It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.

The theme of this year’s World TB Day is: The Clock Is Ticking

The theme of World TB Day 2021 – ‘The Clock is Ticking’ –conveys the sense that the world is running out of time to act on the commitments to end TB made by global leaders. This is especially critical in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put End TB progress at risk, and to ensure equitable access to prevention and care in line with WHO’s drive towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.

This year marks the moment when the world and its leaders have just over one year left to fulfill the United Nations Political Declaration on Tuberculosis by the agreed December 2022 deadline. Time is passing quickly, and world leaders are at risk of running out the clock. COVID-19 has reversed our gains and slowed down our progress. That is why the theme for World TB Day 2021 is “The Clock is Ticking”, highlighting the urgency with which the international community must step up and redouble its efforts to fulfill their commitments.

Facts

  • 63,000,000 lives saved since 2000 by global efforts to end TB
  • 10,000,000 people fell ill with TB in 2019
  • 1,400,000 people died of TB in 2019
  • 465,000 people fell ill with drug-resistant TB in 2019

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